LAHORE – A full bench of the Lahore High Court Thursday expressed dismay over Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for not producing lists of defaulters, adverse reports about candidates issued by the SBP, FBR and NAB despite court’s repeated orders.

Admonishing the ECP officials, the three-judge bench headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked the ECP, “Do you want this court to stop the election process”.

The bench was hearing a constitutional petition seeking implementation of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution to stop ineligible candidates from contesting election and against the poor scrutiny of their credentials conducted by the returning officers in Punjab.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi are other members of the full bench.

When hearing resumed, amicus curie Advocate Babar Sattar assisted the bench by arguing that office of an RO could not take action against any contestant for having fake degree.

He argued that Supreme Court had also directed the ECP to look into the matter of fake degree holders. Upon that the commission approached the sessions’ courts for action against them.

However, the RO had powers to reject or accept the nomination papers of a candidate on the grounds of ‘Sadiq and Ameen’, Advocate Babar added.

Citing an example, he contended that a candidate should have knowledge about basic principles and teachings of Islam like necessary for students in competition examinations.

He was of the opinion that only the public had right to hold accountable their representatives and not the returning officers.

At this, Advocate Azhar Saddique, petitioner’s counsel, pointed out that ECP was not providing the details of defaulter candidates deliberately despite repeated orders. Actually, the ECP failed to perform his duties as demanded by the Constitution, Azhar argued.

He added the ECP was also unable to adverse reports issued by the SBP, FBR and NAB about the contestants.

He said the elections should be held on time, but a detailed review of the adverse reports of the contestants was necessary before elections.

At this, the bench inquired from the ECP officials about the lists of adverse reports and defaulter candidates ordered by the court.

The ECP law officer Ali Akhtar told the bench it was impossible for the Commission to prepare lists of nearly 27,000 candidates. Some of the details had been uploaded on the website, but not all record. The bench admonished the ECP officials observing, “Did the ECP want the court to stop the election process”.

The full bench again ordered the ECP to produce lists of candidates about whom there were adverse remarks given by the CBP, FBR and NAB.

The court also directed the ECP to produce the record of defaulter candidates as well.

The bench adjourned the hearing for April 12 (today) and directed another amicus curie to advance the arguments.

Meanwhile, a Lahore High Court Full Bench observed how the elections could be fair when no objection came against a defaulter candidate and he had been allowed to contest the elections.

The three-judge full bench headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan summoned Director Intelligence of FBR on Friday (today) on a petition demanding delay in elections due to poor scrutiny of the contestants and complaining against accepting of nomination papers of defaulters.

The petitioner contended that the scrutiny of candidates was not held correctly and the FBR and State Bank had not provided the Returning Officers (ROs) with the list of defaulters while the ROs had accepted the nomination papers without it.

He submitted the defaulters would again rule the country if their nomination papers couldn’t be set aside.

He pointed out 1,000 appeals had been filed out of more than 37,000 nomination papers. He requested the court to postpone elections for two months so that a strict scrutiny of the candidates could be held. The Deputy Attorney General argued that the petitioner wanted to derail the democratic system.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, a member of the bench, observed how transparency in the elections could be maintained if no objection had been filed against a loan or tax defaulter contestant. The bench summoned FBR Director Intelligence and also issued notice to Attorney General to assist the court on the matter.

In a related matter of accepting the nomination paper of a contestant who has cleared his defaulted amount, the bench sought reply from ECP on April 12.

Advocate Rana Javed told the Bench that Returning Officer for PP-174 had accepted the nomination paper of Jamil Hassan Khan who is a dual national and also was defaulter of government dues.

He pointed out that the candidate had cleared the government dues, and despite that his nomination papers could not accepted in view of Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

He requested the court to set aside the RO decision for accepting the papers of Jamil Hassan.